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October 18, 2013
Vol. 55 No. 6

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Alumna applies SU to 'MU'

In a year filled with sequels to such films as "Despicable Me" and "The Smurfs," this summer saw the premiere of the long-awaited prequel to the early 2000s family-favorite "Monsters, Inc."
While moviegoers young and old got to catch up and hang with their favorite monsters Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan in "Monsters University," one Susquehanna alumna had been hard at work behind the scenes at Pixar Animation Studios, helping to develop the university crest and the Greek logos seen throughout the film.
Alumna Cassandra Smolcic, who graduated in 2006, said that attending Susquehanna helped her when she began planning the film's designs.
"Most of my co-workers in the art department actually had little to no experience with Greek life because the vast majority of them attended art colleges. So being an artist who attended a liberal arts university and had attended a frat party or two in her day actually had its advantages and gave me more of an insider's perspective," she said.
While coming from a campus whose Greek life has a heavy presence, Smolcic said that designing the Greek logos was a challenge for her and the rest of the Pixar team.
"We had the challenge of putting our own "monsterified" spin on the meaning and the look of many of the letterforms. I iterated for weeks to get the right balance between the Greek and monster-world read in the logos," she said.
Having worked with "Monsters University" director Dan Scanlon for months to get the best designs, Smolcic said that many of her ideas and looks that she developed took her back to her days at Susquehanna.
"When starting any new design project I often pull reference images from the real world to inform what common themes and styles might arise for a particular facet of design. Susquehanna's crest was among the many images I referenced when approaching the MU crest," she said.
Smolcic continued: "We often like to place our mark among real-world reference logos to see if ours fits in well with the group and achieves the right read and aesthetic that we're shooting for."
While originally a journalism major before changing over to creative writing, Smolcic said that she really credits the graphic design program, which she fell in love with after taking a computer arts elective class during her sophomore year, and her writing background, for the success that she has experienced.
"Designers are constantly being asked to become experts on a new subject each time they take on a new design project, so my background as a journalist constantly comes in handy while researching and orienting myself to a new design problem and audience." she said.
With "Monsters University" raising more than $260 million dollars, according to IMDB.com, during its showing in theaters worldwide, Smolcic said that it brought her a sense of confidence in knowing that she did the best designs she could for the film.
Smolcic also said that she felt like the film did a great job in representing what colleges and universities are all about.
"Watching the final films often reminds me of my days on the SU campus, which makes me feel like the team on MU really accomplished that classic look of a prestigious university campus with a long history," she said.
Smolcic said: "Whether I'm working on branding, marketing, or designing graphics for the film industry, I am always aware and appreciative of the incredible power of visual communications. A design I create can help a business thrive, arouse interest in a social cause, or support a compelling story that will resonate with a child for life."
She continued: "What I make as a designer invariably has some social, cultural, environmental or even political impact - which is a notion that keeps me both humbled and inspired."

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